Monday, April 3, 2017

You Are Only a Kid Once

As a teacher, I often think back in my life to when I was the same age as my students.  What was I doing?  How did I learn?  What did I enjoy?  How can I replicate this in my classroom?

I have very fond memories from my elementary years.  I remember exploring in the woods with all of the neighborhoods until the sun went down.  We would always find cattails or frogs to bring back home.  I remember creating forts out of every blanket in the house with my brothers.  We would have to twist and turn the furniture to get it just right to hold the blanket in the perfect position.  I remember playing school with my best friends.  I, of course, always had to be the teacher.

Kids are growing up in a different way today.  While this can seem vastly different than my childhood, the foundation is really the same.  Kids are exploring, creating, and dreaming big.  Those three things are such an important aspect of childhood.  

When students are given the time to explore, they discover so many new things.  My favorite time to let kids explore during class is at science time.  We study weather.  This can be a really tricky concept for five and six year old kids.  How can it be sunny outside and cold at the same time?  Why doesn’t it rain every time it is cloudy?  If we can’t see the wind, how do we know it is there?  I spend time teaching my class about the tools we use to measure weather.  The students get to create their own wind flag and go outside and figure out what wind is and how a flag can show us that it is windy.  Students get to take a thermometer outside and see what happens to the temperature in the middle of winter with the sun shining.  My kids learn so much and start teaching one another when they are given the chance to explore.

My students are encouraged to create.  Students have had opportunity to code, film, build, paint, and more in my classroom.  They have created paths for robots to take using different coding techniques.  They have designed structures that would keep a little pig safe if the big bad wolf were to come knocking.   Through creating, they are able to teach their peers.  They make mistakes and keep working until they find a way to fix it. 

My students are encouraged to dream, and to dream BIG.  We recently used the Green Screen to compose a piece based off of the book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”.  Students shared what they want to be when they grow up as they flew across a page of the Dr. Seuss book.  I have students in my class who want to be doctors, paleontologists, mommies, electrical engineers, policemen, and more.  When time allows, we pull out blocks, Legos, Lincoln logs, iPads, baby dolls, animals and paint and allow kids the freedom to explore these paths.  I was in awe when an aspiring engineer created a catapult out of Lincoln Logs.  My kids are encouraged to follow their dreams, no matter what that may be.  

Kids, regardless of when they were born, learn in the same ways.  They learn through exploration, through creating, and through dreaming big.  My hope is that my students leave my room at the end of the year inspired and not afraid of taking risks.  We are only a kid once, and I want my students to make the most of it.

This is me in Kindergarten!  Fun Fact:  I teach at the same school that I attended as a Kinder Student!

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